Previous home to a Bonaparte botanist, the Shangri-La Paris is a unique take on Parisian life that can’t be matched.
The hotel represents the Hong Kong based Shangri-La Group’s first European hotel and we must say, they chose a hell of a spot for it.
Built as the residence of French imperial Prince Roland Bonaparte, a keen botanist and collector, the hotel was worked on by architects and sculptors renown for their work restoring the Louvre and Tuileries palaces.
It’s an eclectic mix of 19th-century bourgeois life with botanic undertones punctuated by the Shangri-La’s trademark orchids and priceless porcelain pieces. And we can’t get enough of it.
We arrived fresh off an airport bus, five minutes from the hotel in the pouring rain. In our haste, we almost walked straight past the front doors. Until you notice the abundance of doormen and small “Shangri-La” plaque, you’d assume it was some grand residence, off-limits to the likes of us travel weary wanderers.
Once inside, we were well and truly soaked and fresh off a 24-hour flight. The lobby has a distinctly residential feel, with reception desks and concierge on the side wings instead of the usual front and centre.
Our room wasn’t quite ready yet and we were instructed to wait in the beautiful 19th-century billiard room and handed glasses of much welcome champagne while they added the finishing touches.
The Shangri-La Paris is situated on Avenue d’Iéna in the elegant 16th arrondissement, where you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art, Palais de Tokyo and your usual assortment of Parisian brasseries and boulangeries.
It’s around a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, 15 minutes to the Champs Elysees, with a metro stop just around the corner for everything else.
Rooms and suites
The hotel contains 63 rooms, 37 suites and four signature suites, with 40 per cent of the rooms and 60 per cent of the suites showcasing breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower.
The room reviewed was an Eiffel Tower View room measuring about 47 square meters. Featuring silk-threaded wallpaper and custom made European empire furnishings, the room was a harmonious blend of imperial Paris and Asian aesthetics.
But the real kicker was the view. Upon stepping out onto the balcony, you’re met with a sweeping view of the city including a clear, up-close view of the star of the show: the Eiffel Tower.
There’s also a fantastic view of the tower from the marble bathroom so you can watch her light up after dark while soaking in the tub after a long day of exploring cobblestone streets.
Drinking and dining
There are three restaurants on offer and one very quirky bar. Considering our view (and a fairly hefty dose of jet lag) we opted to have breakfast served on the balcony in our room.
We had the American breakfast, which features eggs your way, toast, two sides, fruit, yoghurt, coffee or tea, juice and a basket of pastries, all of which was delicious. Perhaps more so because we enjoyed our feast with one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the city.
Breakfast is also served in La Bauhinia, where you can find French and South-East Asian contemporary food in the heart of the hotel beneath the magnificent 1930’s era Eiffel-inspired steel and glass cupola. It’s open from 6:30am to 11:00pm offering continual service.
For those seeking authentic French fare, L’Abeille is a two Michelin star gourmet French restaurant overlooking a stunning garden and decorated in theme with the insignia of the Bonaparte family: the bee, or l’abeille in French.
Our favourite was the Shang Palace, the only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in France, decked out with Hong Kong style dark wood and jade carvings and serving up the best dim sum we’ve ever eaten.
We also enjoyed a drink at Le Bar Botaniste, which serves botanical brews and quirky cocktails. We enjoyed two cocktails: Néktar, a pollen and honey-inspired mix with a cognac hero served in a glass bee and Xerik, a spicy bourbon blend served in a potted cactus. And yes, the cactus was alive.
The CHI Spa, located in Prince Roland Bonaparte’s former stables, features a 15 by 16-metre swimming pool, fitness room and two spacious treatment rooms offering a selection of facial and body treatments from the Organic Pharmacy brand.
Verdict: 9.5 out of 10
The Shangri-La Paris is your ultimate swish Parisian residency. With lush 19th century vibes and all the modern luxuries, it’s the perfect tonic for the often-hectic city of lights.